Question number 2: Work smart, not hard!
How can you manage to work less hard as a manager, and still get your employees to work smarter?
Dear reader, this is your captain speaking. Please look at the instructions in the seat pocket in front of you. What follows is crucial information, so please sit tight and listen carefully. Because of your lack of time, I will say this only once.
For those readers that, instead of reading the whole book, were lured to this paragraph because of its enticing title, congratulations: you are the truly lazy ones! Why read a book when you can learn from reading one paragraph? Now, if you want to learn how to use the simple solutionfocused
tools in the easiest way possible, read the rest of this paragraph and then jump to chapter 5, The Man in the Middle. There you will find a real-life case study in the form of a story. However, beware: after reading chapter 5, you might — and this is our sincere hope as authors — be lured into reading even more of the book.
For those readers who took the effort of working themselves through all of the preceding pages: congratulations and thank you for your time and effort. If the title of this paragraph makes you think that what you are reading now contains the ultimate secret of the solution-focused model: again congratulations. This means that you truly understand what the solution-focused model is all about, and you already know the secret by now! This secret is: More is less, and less is more.
But hey, I thought that managers are supposed to work hard, or at least harder than their employees. Are we not paid for putting in the extra hours, the extra stress, the extra mile? Sure, but sweating when you work does not necessarily mean that you work efficiently, especially not when you are a manager. Managerial sweat ought to be reserved for the gym!
Remember, management is the art of getting things done through other people. Doesn’t this imply that you are not supposed to do everything yourself? Instead, your job is to create an environment in which your employees perform optimally. Your job is to help them work smart, more than just hard. Now, what is working smart?
You all know the famous acronym for the description of goals, of course. Classically, “S.M.A.R.T.” stands for: Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Time-bound. And as you know, a lot of smart management involves goal-setting and making sure that goals are attained whilst keeping a resource focus. With our adage “simple works best” in mind, working smart is defined by a precise balance between input and output: maximum results with minimal effort.
Tips from the hitchhiker’s guide for the lazy but efficient manager:
• Set clear, concise, and obtainable goals for the short, mid, and long term and make sure these are in line with the overall goals of the company.
• Make sure to involve your employees when setting goals: the more involvement, the more ownership, the more motivation and the better the results.
• Make sure to demonstrate the four tenets (page 22) of the solutionfocused model in everything you do as manager.
• Be a hunter for exceptions to the problem, for these open doors towards solutions.
• Prefer resource-drive over goal-drive.
• Encourage your employees to be as open as possible with themselves and each other about their own resources.
• Indulge in what goes well in the team, and make plenty of compliments about everybody’s contribution.
• Don’t be shy when it comes to giving compliments.
• Don’t be shy when it comes to criticizing.
• Don’t be shy when you take decisions. Just keep everybody involved in the consequences of your decisions.